In an interview with AFP, Mike James, star of Monaco, who travels to Madrid to face Real on Thursday, assures that he is at peace with himself and returns to his relationship with his coach Sasa Obradovic, who wants the best from him.

Last year, you were exceptional in Madrid. Do you live for those moments? I wouldn’t say that. But I’m not afraid of these moments. I was never afraid to take a big shot. If you fail, you come across as selfish. You shouldn’t go back there again. And if you score, everyone loves you.

Are there two James in Monaco: one before and one after suspension (15 days last March “for violation of internal rules”, editor’s note)? I don’t think so. When you play in the best teams, people look at you differently. I still think that suspension was stupid. But I have a contract. I complied. We had to continue.

Was reaching the Final 4 an accomplishment? Yes! It was big, although it would have been nice to win that trophy. It’s good to be one of the core men in the club’s development process. I enjoy this path.

At 33, are you more giving than before? I don’t think that way. I’m here to play, not to wonder if I’m playing for myself or others. I want everyone on the team to succeed. But I don’t think I’m entering the purest moment of my life, let’s put it that way. I’m here to win. Living in the present moment is exactly what I’m looking for. Those who plan too much forget to take advantage. When setting goals, the most important thing is the path to get there. I try to improve myself daily, navigating between good times and bad.

Do you use your past experiences? If you don’t remember anything from the past, without learning from your mistakes, you haven’t understood anything. Each moment of life allows you to better understand the present moment. I use my life experience to offer an improved version of myself. At least, an updated version.

Are we seeing the best now? At every period of my career, there have been good moments. It’s just another version. But she looks like me. I am at peace with myself. I know who I am. It’s the best way to continue in this profession, where everyone has an opinion on you. If you are not at peace with yourself, the temptation to conflict exists. And I’m happy with who I am.

Isn’t that dangerous for a competitor? I know myself. Every day contributes to my development. I remain stubborn, in the way I work or want something. It all depends on the situation and the moment, this too can even play tricks on me.

As in your relationships with your coaches? I’ve had very good relationships with most of them. People often like to spin stories. Here, my relationship with Sasa (Obradovic) is good and healthy, in dialogue.

But he always expects more from you…That’s for sure. He generally expects more from everyone. Sometimes you’re having a bad day, you don’t feel like it. There may be some tension. But he only wants the best from you. So the best for me, in a way. With the aim of contributing as much as possible.

Has the signing of Kemba Walker also pushed you to give the best of you? We have deep discussions about our feelings and putting certain situations into perspective with everyone. But Kemba is a star who has experienced so many situations, coaches, tactics. He has such experience that his vision and his opinion bring me a lot. Sooner or later, his words are useful.